Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Honest with the Hurt

Leslie Basham: Nancy Rach invites you to be honest.

Nancy Rach: I think a lot of people in churches these days have the idea that to be a Christian you’re not supposed to feel the negative emotions. You look at all the times in the Bible that somebody lamented over what was going on in their life, and they cried, and they wept, and they struggled with the Lord.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Thursday, June 19, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Recently, at my home church here in southwest Michigan, we were blessed to hear from a missionary couple that our church has supported for a number of years. I’d heard their names before, and I knew Nancy’s parents over the years, but I don’t think I’d actually met this couple before.

I was so touched to hear Tom and Nancy Rach sharing about the ministry God’s given them in Mexico. My ears really perked up when Nancy started sharing about the particular ministry she’s having with women there in Mexico. So I made a beeline for her right after the service and said, “I don’t know how long you’re in town, but could you come in to our studio this week and share that story with our listeners?”

She was so kind to say that yes she would do that—so here we are. Nancy, thank you so much for coming in on virtually no notice and being willing to share out of your journey and now how God’s using you to be blessing in others’ lives.

Nancy R: Thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate it.

Nancy D: And you and your husband have been missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico . . .

Nancy R: . . . for seventeen years.

Nancy D: The Lord has used you and Tom in a number of different ways. Tom has been a seminary professor. He’s now involved in some more hands-on sorts of ministry down there. You’ve done some different things as well.

Nancy R: Right. When the Lord sends you somewhere, He doesn’t always tell you what you will be doing. When our children were little, it was evident that people were needed to help in children’s ministry, so that my children would have good teaching, too, so I did a lot of teaching in Sunday School and Junior Church. Then we started kids’ clubs in the barrios (neighborhoods).

In Mexico, the majority of the people are children under the age of eighteen, and nobody was doing anything with them, except occasional vacation Bible schools. So we took the idea of a kid's club and did it one day a week and had a huge response. The kids just loved it.

We usually held it in the middle of the street, and so all the parents would be watching and seeing what was going on. It gave you the opportunity to minister to the whole family.

Nancy D: And so you learned Spanish . . .

Nancy R: Oh, yes, I had to learn Spanish. I had three years in high school, but that does not work when you go to Mexico. No one down there speaks English, so, yes, our primary language is Spanish.

Nancy D: So you were involved in children’s ministry.

Nancy R: And as the years go on, the Lord changes your responsibilities. The first word you learn as a missionary is “flexibility.” The Lord is always changing things and life changes.

Nancy D: Flexibility—that’s a good word for any Christian to learn.

Nancy R: It is. It really is. It is not our will, it should be His will. Things change—where He needs you and where He wants to use you. So we’ve been very flexible. This year when we go home, we’ll be empty nesters. This will be the first time we’ll be without our two sons.

Nancy D: And when you say “go home,” you mean home to Mexico.

Nancy R: I have a foot in both homes. One is here in southwestern Michigan, and one in Mexico. It really is a pull, sometimes, in both directions.

Nancy D: When you first went down there seventeen years ago, would you have ever dreamed that you would be having the kind of ministry in women’s lives that you are having today?

Nancy R: No. It never crossed my mind.

Nancy D: So, tell us a little about how the Lord opened this door, how you got into it. Now, let me just say that the gist of it is that you’re working with women who’ve been abused or traumatized in various ways.

Nancy R: Right. About two years ago, before we came home on home ministry, a friend came to me who owns a Christian bookstore. She said, "Nancy, I need help. I have women coming to me with these awful stories—of abuse and things going on in their lives. I just feel like the Lord wants me to minister to them, but I don’t know what to say to them.”

Her pastor was opposed to her working with them. He felt she should just bring them to church and the church would meet their need. But their church ladies group wasn’t built for these kinds of questions and problems. These Mexican women were coming to her, and they were just pouring out their life story and their pain to her so she could help them.

I said, “Sure, I’ll help you, but let me think about how we’re going to do this.” We went to the States. While we were home visiting churches, we visited a brand-new church we had never visited before. In their bulletin I noticed a little blurb about a special kind of group they were starting in the fall.

If you wanted to be a part of it, it was a place where it was safe to share all the hurts in your heart. So I called or emailed the sister who was in charge of it, and she gave me a contact in Mexico for the same group. I managed to go to one of their trainings in the Dominican Republic, and it just opened my eyes.

It wasn’t just opening my eyes to the ministry I could have with other women, but also it was opening my eyes to my own pain in my heart that I had buried for years. Even though most people don’t realize it—there are many forms of abuse.

In my case, I had a male relative who—when I was just probably in about seventh grade and just at that age of starting to change—he fondled me. I didn’t realize the damage that did to me as a person. I struggled with things for years, and I never understood why. I thought, that was just a one-time thing.

At the time that it happened, I didn’t talk to my parents. I was ashamed. I went through all of the cycles of abuse and didn’t realize it. I was ashamed—I wasn’t going to tell my parents. What are they going to say when they see this person? Are they going to believe him, or are they going to believe me?

You’re only a little kid. This isn’t supposed to happen to you.

Nancy D: When you say you buried this . . . is it something you thought about a lot, or you just pushed it out of your mind?

Nancy R: Well, first of all, whenever we would see that relative, I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. He would be on one side of the room, I tried to stay on the other side of the room basically. I took it upon myself to build a wall, but I did talk to one of my older sisters.

Several years later he died. We were coming home from some place, and the Lord just prompted me to tell her, “I didn’t cry at his funeral because this happened to me.” She was the first person I told it to. I was about fifteen.

Nancy D: So you were still in your teens.

Nancy R: Yes. One of the things I learned working with this women’s group was, when you suffer abuse—especially as a child—you try to control it the only way you can. As a child, you build this wall around you. As you grow older, you have to leave the things of your childhood behind.

You need to learn new ways of handling things, in taking it to the Lord. I had always been very frank with the Lord about things, but I still had this invisible wall that I wouldn’t let anyone penetrate. Guys were okay if they were my friends, but the moment they wanted anything more than friendship the wall went up.

I wasn’t going to let myself get hurt again. But then, it created new problems. Later on when I got married, it caused other problems. So I was struggling with my own problems internally that I hadn’t even acknowledged until I went to this seminar.

Nancy D: Is this something you told your husband before you got married?

Nancy R: Yes, I had talked to him about it. I had all these idealistic ideas about how things would be because “he’s heard my story, he understands me.” But his understanding of it was different . . . it’s just a complete different thing.

Nancy D: So did you find yourself, even in marriage, putting some of those walls up?

Nancy R: Right . . . or emotionally abandoning my husband at times. I had to come back from the Dominican Republic and repent of that, and cry on his shoulder and say, “I’m sorry, because honestly I have abandoned you.”

Nancy D: What did you hear at that ministry training that helped you see that?

Nancy R: Well, we did a lot of work on a lot of different things. This was a week-long intensive group. We would take a story out of the Bible—for example, the story of Tamar. Let me tell you this story the way I would tell it in my group:

There was a beautiful, young lady whose father was a very important man in the town where they lived . . . very important. Everyone knew and loved him.
She was one of his cherished daughters. He loved her so much he gave her a special dress to wear, it was almost like parents these days who give their daughters a purity ring to wear. He had given her this special dress, and she was so proud to be his daughter and to be pure and to take care of herself. 
But she was from a mixed family. One day her half-brother raped her. Not only did he rape her, but he treated her as something disposable. It was his own internal contempt at what he had done to his sister. He shoved her away and said, "I don’t want to have anything to do with you. Get out of here. You’re worthless!"
This girl’s heart was ripping apart on the inside, and she was crying and crying, "Don’t do this to me! This is wrong!" She left crying and ripped the beautiful dress that her father had given her—because it was a sign of purity—and she’s crying her eyes out.
She ran into one of her full-blooded brothers, and he said, “What happened?”
She said that the half-brother had raped her.
Her brother said, “Shhh! Don’t say anything. Just go to my house, and I’ll take care of you. No one needs to know. He was your brother—we’ll take care of it.”
So she went to her brother’s home and you never hear of her again in Scripture. She’s buried in silence. They told her she had to be quiet, and you never hear what her father’s response was to what happened to her.

Nancy D: Her father, who was by the way, King David.

Nancy R: Who was King David! Usually what I do with this story is I’ll tell the story, and then I’ll say, “This story came out of the Bible. This is King David and his daughter. This is why the sword never left his home—because one brother kills the other brother and then the brother is fighting his father for the kingship, and all these things happen.”

But the woman in the story, what happened to her? If you read the story, it says she went to her brother’s house and her spirit was crushed. She had to hide all this pain in her heart. Silence is one of those horrible things that victims of abuse suffer.

Nancy D: So you see some parallels between Tamar’s story and what you went through or what other women go through?

Nancy R: And it’s not just women. There are an awful lot of men who have suffered abuse, too. The group I was in was actually men and women, and it was good, too, because then they each get the perspective of the other side.

Nancy D: Do you think Tamar’s story, and to some extent yours, of silence, is that fairly typical?

Nancy R: Yes, I do. I think it’s very typical.

Nancy D: So you just kind of bury it? What would make a woman be silent rather than speak? Maybe the answer’s obvious, but I just want to hear you say it.

Nancy R: Satan wants us to believe it’s our fault and that we shouldn’t say anything because everyone else will think badly of us. We talk a lot about what is shame, and what is guilt. Guilt is something that’s black and white—you’ve violated God’s law, and you can go in and repent of it and be forgiven.

Shame isn’t as black and white. It’s based on models instead of morals. You have an idea in your mind of what a good family is or what a good Christian is or what a good girl is. And this is what you’re trying to achieve, and anytime you fall short, you beat yourself up.

What you don’t realize is, that’s idolatry. You’ve put someone else in control of who you should be, and it’s not what God wanted for you. I wouldn’t say anything to somebody about what happened to me because they might think less of me. So you carry all of that pain.

We say it’s like you have a suitcase. You’re on a journey, and you start sticking things in your suitcase. I like to use visuals with my women to help them understand about the things we hide in our hearts. They sell in plant stores tiny little bead-looking things. You put them in a mason jar, add water, and after twelve hours they hydrate and look like marbles in the water.

Most people use them that way with their plants. You can see them in the jar and know they’re there. Well, what I do is I put them in the jar, and I cram them in after they’ve hydrated. I put the lid on after I’ve put a little extra water in, and you don’t see them. It's because the water fills in the cracks around all of the little pearls, the marbles, and it refracts the light the same way as the water.

So when you look at the jar, it looks clear, because you see the water. If you concentrate really hard, you can see the beads, but you have to be doing that. Most people just look at the jar and think, Nancy’s got a Mason jar of water, or Nancy’s got a jar of vinegar—she’s going to trick us. But really it’s full of something else.

I tell them, we are like this Mason jar. People are looking at us on the outside and saying, “I know exactly who Nancy is. Look, she’s this person, and this is how she is.” But this is really the mask that I show the world, because inside—when you take the lid off—I have all of these things that I’ve been sticking in this jar my whole life and not dealing with.

But the Lord looks at the heart. When I take the lid off, these pearls or these marbles, are now free. They continue to suck water, and they start falling out of the jar because there isn’t any space. There are so many in there. People can suddenly see, it wasn’t water in the jar at all, really—it was these hydro-gel pearls. They look like marbles.

Nancy D: I guess probably all of us have those kinds of things in our hearts.

Nancy R: Right. I had one of my ladies tell me, “Nancy, that illustration has stuck with me. They just start falling out after you take the lid off, because there are so many in there, pushing against each other. They continue to take on liquid when you take the lid off, and they’re falling on the table.”

That’s my heart. I have all these things that I’ve been hiding and haven’t been dealing with.

Nancy D: So the question is, “What’s in your Mason jar that needs to come out? The lid needs to come off.”

Nancy R: That’s right.

Nancy D: When you spoke at our church, and said these things it got really quiet in that room. You just spoke for a few minutes, but I felt it just pierced hearts. You said, “People in this church have things buried in their hearts.”

Nancy R: There are so many people that are “walking wounded,” and you don’t realize it. Maybe nobody realizes it. Sometimes the person doesn’t realize how wounded they are until they start dealing with it. In our groups we do a lot of crying, because tears heal.

If it’s a sorrow and a grief in your heart, the only way to get it out is to lament and to cry. I think a lot of people in churches these days have the idea that to be a Christian, you’re not supposed to feel the negative emotions.

Nancy D: Or you’re supposed to be past that. “Get over it.”

Nancy R: I think that they’re wrong. You look at all the times in the Bible that somebody lamented over what was going on in their life, and they cried and they wept and they struggled with the Lord. Jacob struggled with the Lord, pleading to be blessed.

Nancy D: The first step is just acknowledging, like you had to, that this is in your life.

Nancy R: Right, the first step is acknowledging you’re on a journey and your journey is different from everybody else’s, and you shouldn’t be comparing your journey to anybody else’s. “This is my journey, what I have gone through, and it might take me longer to heal than it does another person, or it may take me less time.”

The thing that’s constant in the story is the Healer.

Nancy D: It’s not even that the tears themselves heal, but that’s part of the lament process of grieving, that something is broken and something is wrong.

Nancy R: Right.

Nancy D: I think Psalm 10 is a striking passage, which says, “Why, O Lord, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (v. 1).Then it talks about how the wicked pursue the poor, they afflict them, and yet they seem to prosper. And the wicked says in his heart, “God will not call to account,” but the psalmist says, “[God, you do know], you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself ” (v. 14).

There’s this awareness that God not only knows what went on in that secret, silent place . . .

Nancy R: He did not like what was happening when I was abused. He hated it . . .

Nancy D: He hated it! Scripture says, “in all their affliction He was afflicted.”

Nancy R: God was with me in that moment, even though I may not have sensed it and felt like, “God, where are You and why is this happening to me?” He was with me, but I may not have realized it. You have to go through that grieving process, not only over what happened, but also over what was lost in your life . . . the innocence that was lost.

It’s hard because I think people are afraid of emotions anymore. And it’s getting worse, the more electronics we have in our lives. I have an example of one of our ladies in Mexico. She was very, very close to her mother-in-law—closer to her mother-in-law than to her own family.

At the time her mother-in-law died, my friend was pregnant. Everyone in her family told her, “You can’t cry. It will hurt the baby!” So she was terrified that she was going to hurt her baby if she wept and grieved over the loss of her best friend.

Nancy D: “Keep a stiff upper lip.”

Nancy R: Right. So one day I went over to her house. I hugged her, and she started to cry. I hugged her harder, and she started to cry harder. I said, “You know what? You need to cry. Keeping it in is not going to help. You need to cry and let it out. But, you know what? Your husband needs to grieve, too, because it was his mom. Hug each other tight, and just cry together.” That’s the first step in healing, just crying.

Nancy D: I know we have some women listening to this conversation right now who say, “That’s my story.” Maybe it was years ago, maybe it was decades ago. There was abuse of some sort—sexual, emotional, physical. They’ve been living with shame, covering, burying.

I think there’s hope in your story of the power of Christ to set a captive free from those years. So in these last few minutes, walk us through how that process worked, of God setting you free as you went through that intense time in the Dominican Republic.

Nancy R: What has helped me? The week in the Dominican Republic was important. First of all, I took time away from everything I was used to, and I was in a completely different place. So I didn’t have people calling me on the telephone and interrupting me. I could just be alone with the Lord.

Nancy D: You were wanting to start a study for other women, but did you know that when you went there you were going to be dealing with your own pain?

Nancy R: I think so, and I was ready. I was at that point. In fact, one of the ladies who was in charge said to me, “I am just amazed. For somebody who does not speak Spanish as their first language, how much you have taken away from this.”

And I said, “Because the Lord knew I needed it.” This door wasn’t just so I could help other people, but also that I could help myself.

Nancy D: And to help yourself in order to enable you to help others in the long run.

Nancy R: Right. There’s a lot of truth in being a wounded leader. Jacob, after he wrestled with the Lord, limped for the rest of his life. He was blessed, but he limped. That’s how we may be. We may have to wrestle hard with the Lord over issues in ourselves or over issues where we don’t want to let go. We wrestle because we need the control. It’s the only secure thing in my life—to control all the details.

Nancy D: For you, was this a kind of instantaneous release and shedding of the baggage?

Nancy R: No. I tell people we’re like onions. We take off the first layer, and there’s more to keep going through.

Nancy D: So you went home and you talked to your husband?

Nancy R: I went home, and I talked to my husband. I apologized for the things I needed to apologize for with him. I’m not going to say things were perfect because I would regress to bad habits and bad patterns, and I would need to go back. That’s part of being a child of God; you can say, “I blew it again today. I didn’t react the way I should have.”

Nancy D: We’re going to pick up this conversation tomorrow, because there’s a lot more, and I want you to share how God is using these truths to set other women free. But I want us to stop for a moment and pray.

Lord, I know there are women listening right now—maybe men as well—who are experiencing a stirring deep within them. They’re saying, “I need to get set free. There’s this issue in my past, there’s this wound, this pain that’s been buried. There’s this shame."

Maybe hope has welled up in their heart at this moment as they’ve heard Nancy’s story, and I pray that You would infuse hope, and infuse the possibility of walking in freedom and grace; that there would be those listening right now who would be willing to come out of hiding and to no longer bury the pain, but run into it and face it. I pray they would find someone to talk with, to realize they can find grace, and they can be free from this bondage of hidden, secret, shame-based pain of the past.

Lord, I just pray that today—and as we listen to the rest of this story tomorrow—You would be in the process of setting captives free. Thank You for Your heart for those who’ve been oppressed, those who’ve been wounded. Thank You for Jesus, who is the Wounded Healer—who by His taking abuse He did not deserve has become the means of healing for brokenhearted, wounded people.

Please bring the helping, healing hand of Jesus into many, many lives right now by Your grace and by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray it in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Nancy Rach about tough issues of abuse and forgiveness, and they’ve been telling you about the freedom all of us can experience in Christ.

We’d like to help you meditate on the words of Jesus and words about Jesus by sending you a CD called Hidden in My Heart: Volume 3. Revive Our Hearts listeners have loved Volumes 1 and 2 of Hidden in My Heart. This third CD in the series is all about Jesus.

This month when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you Hidden in My Heart: Volume 3. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to donate and indicate that you’d like to receive the CD.

How can you help a woman who’s in an abusive relationship? Nancy Rach will be back with us tomorrow to talk about the practical steps she helps women take. Please be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.